Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Thomas Pynchon

Not long ago I spent nearly all my day, off and on, trying to track down a copy of an international newspaper that printed, allegedly, a current photograph of Thomas Pynchon (by current I mean within the last 10 years). Why? I really don't know. I was bored at work, and honestly (i.e. shamefully), I believe I have developed a huge man crush on Pynchon that revivals only that of David Foster Wallace.

I went through dozens (probably more like hundreds) of websites, databases, and blogs searching for Pynchon's mysterious face. I found his infamous clips from The Simpsons, those shots of him in his youth, a fuzzy picture of the alleged shot that CNN got of him walking down a busy New York City street, and, my favorite, photos that used computer technology (complete with aging filters) to show what Pynchon would look like based on his only confirmed photos (they were scary to say the least).

I confess I enjoyed my search; who wouldn't? They were full of wild theories about his Navy days and what he did to want such deep cover, how he had plastic surgery and was living down in TJ, that he was really J.D. Salinger, and that he had been dead for years and it was really just a group of writers using his name as a pen.

In the end, I still had not seen the alleged photo of him. In the end, I'm not sure I'd want to. The mystery of him is what I admire so greatly. I have The Crying of Lot 49...that's enough to keep me happy...at least for now.


Anonymous said...

I once had a dream that I saw him hanging around at some literary event. He knew that I knew it was him, but he told me not to tell anyone. But word still got out, and he got annoyed. He didn't look much different than the few pictures of him when he was in his 20s.

Have you read "Gravity's Rainbow?" If so, what did you think of it? Personally I had trouble with it. Pynchon's an amazing talent, but his words are often too abstract for me to understand. Sort of like "Naked Lunch." I want to try GR again some day.

Scott Douglas said...

Gravity's Rainbow is one of those rare books that I just don't feel quite ready for; it seems so sacred on my bookshelf and I'm afraid if my eyes meet it's page before I'm ready I will not get as much out of it as I should. It's a wussy approach, I'm afraid!